AP Pro32 ballot from Gosselin

AP Pro32 ballot from Gosselin

Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Rick Gosselin of Dallas Morning News:

Week 14

RICK GOSSELIN (Dallas Morning News)

1. Houston Texans - There have been 46 three-game road trips in the NFL since 2000. The Texans aspire to become just the sixth team to go 3-0 on one of those trips. That would entail winning this weekend in New England, though.

2. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons receiving corps leads the NFL with 11 individual 100-yard receiving games this season. They only had 12 all of last year.

3. Denver Broncos - The two most balanced teams in the NFL are the Texans and Broncos. They are the only teams that rank in the top 10 in both offense and defense.

4. New England Patriots - The Patriots have snapped the ball 883 times on offense and committed only nine turnovers. Most NFL teams commit more turnovers in a game than New England does in a month.

5. San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers are 0-1-1 against the lowly Rams and 8-2 against everyone else.

6. Baltimore Ravens - Ray Rice has scored eight touchdowns this season but is still looking for his first road score. The Ravens are at Washington Sunday.

7. Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers has been sacked more than any NFL quarterback this season - 39 times.

8. Chicago Bears - The Bears and Packers share first place in the NFC North, but Green Bay owns the tiebreaker and has an easier closing schedule than Chicago. The Bears play three of their last four on the road.

9. Indianapolis Colts - The Colts finished fourth in the NFL in offense in Peyton Manning's last season in 2010. Indy ranks a surprising third this season with rookie Andrew Luck taking the snaps.

10. Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals defense has 15 sacks in their last four games and leads the NFL with 39.

11. New York Giants - If the Giants are to win back-to-back NFC East titles, they're going to have to earn it these next three weeks with games against New Orleans, Atlanta and Baltimore. The Falcons and Ravens both lead their divisions.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers led the NFL in defense in back-to-back seasons in 2007-08. Pittsburgh ranks No. 1 this season and is attempting to go back-to-back again in 2011-12.

13. Seattle Seahawks - The Seahawks are 7-5 with games remaining against Arizona, Buffalo and St. Louis. The Rams and Cardinals are at home - setting up a potential 10-win season for Seattle with a rookie quarterback.

14. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III is showing maturity beyond his years with just one interception in his last five games as the Redskins have pieced together a surprising run at an NFC East title.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Buccaneers are a defensive contradiction, ranking first in the NFL in run defense but last in pass defense. Tampa Bay has allowed eight individual 100-yard receivers.

16. Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys have become notoriously slow starters. They've been outscored in the first half, 68-27, over the last four games.

17. Minnesota Vikings - Adrian Peterson leads the NFL with seven individual 100-yard rushing games - and the last six have come in succession.

18. St. Louis Rams - The Rams are looking to snap a five-game losing streak to AFC opponents this weekend in Buffalo. St. Louis is 0-3 against the AFC this season.

19. New Orleans Saints - QB Drew Brees has thrown 50 or more passes in three games this season and the Saints have lost all of them.

20. Miami Dolphins - Rookie Marcus Thigpen is having a superb season as a returner, averaging 28.9 yards with a touchdown on kickoffs and 12.7 yards with another score on punts.

21. Buffalo Bills - The Bills lead the AFC with an average of 5.2 yards per rush. Both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson have rushed for 100-yard games.

22. Cleveland Browns - The 4-8 Browns have the youngest starting lineup in the NFL but that youth is finally starting to figure this league out. The Browns have won two in a row since pushing the Cowboys into overtime in Dallas.

23. New York Jets - Mark Sanchez threw five TD passes in September but only seven more over the last months.

24. Tennessee Titans - The Titans rank 31st in the NFL with an average time of possession of barely 27 minutes.

25. Detroit Lions - Calvin Johnson has caught 45 passes for 790 yards in his last five games. He has at least 129 yards receiving in all five of the games.

26. San Diego Chargers - The Chargers and Lions are tied for the most disappointing team of 2012. Both fancied themselves as Super Bowl contenders but both sit 4-8 here in December.

27. Arizona Cardinals - Since opening the season 4-0, the Cardinals have lost eight in a row to sink to the bottom of the NFC West.

28. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton has not thrown an interception in his last three games covering 84 passes.

29. Philadelphia Eagles - During this eight-game losing streak the Eagles have fired their defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and best pass rusher.

30. Oakland Raiders - Carson Palmer has passed for 300 yards six times this season and the Raiders have lost all six games. Oakland has lost five in a row and Palmer has 300-yard games in four of them.

31. Kansas City Chiefs - In recent years the 2-10 Chiefs have doled out $117 million in contracts to QB Matt Cassel (2009), WR Steve Breaston (2011) and CB Stanford Routt (2012). Routt's already been cut, Cassel rides the bench and Breaston is a weekly inactive.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars - With Chad Henne at quarterback the last two weeks, the Jaguars have edged up from 32nd to 31st in the NFL in offense.

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Ravens excited about increased speed at wide receiver

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Ravens excited about increased speed at wide receiver

Will the Ravens’ increased speed at wide receiver force opponents to defend them differently?

The Ravens hope so.

They were without Breshad Perriman (knee injury) all of last season, and without Steve Smith Sr. (Achilles injury) the final two months.

That gave opponents license to put a safety closer to the line of scrimmage, and to crowd Ravens receivers with press coverage – unafraid that the Ravens could throw deep with success.

However, Perriman is healthy again, and the Ravens added two speed receivers by signing Mike Wallace during free agency and drafting Chris Moore in the fourth round.

The Ravens believe that speed will lead to more big plays, help their running game, and give Smith and other receivers more operating room.

“We’ve had years when we couldn’t back anybody up,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “The ability to back people up, it’s huge – to quote a famous politician not to be named here. It’s hard for me to see the speed all of the time in some of these drills. I’m like,`How fast are they really moving?’ Then I go ask the (defensive backs) and they say, ‘They’re moving really fast.’ And that makes me feel good about it.”

Perriman averaged 19.5 yards per catch at Central Florida, Moore averaged 19.3 yards per catch at Cincinnati, and Wallace has averaged 15.2 yards per catch over a seven-year NFL career.

The Ravens believe their speed will make opponents think twice about crowding the line of scrimmage. And when opponents do crowd the line of scrimmage, the Ravens plan to make them pay with big plays.

RELATED: FREE AGENT WEDDLE ALREADY MAKING AN IMPACT

Ravens quickly convinced Weddle will be difference maker for secondary

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Ravens quickly convinced Weddle will be difference maker for secondary

Veteran safety Eric Weddle is quickly making a strong impression with the Ravens.

After the first week of OTA’s, both coach Johh Harbaugh and defensive back Lardarius Webb mentioned Weddle as being a difference maker, after being acquired in free agency from the Chargers.

Weddle’s experience as a three-time Pro Bowler should be vital for a Ravens secondary that surrendered too many big plays last season.

Webb sees Weddle seamlessly taking command of the secondary, calling out coverages and making sure teammates are lined up properly.

“If he has anything to tell me I’m always listening,” Webb said. “He’s going to be big for this defense – for this team. He speaks up. I told him, `We want Eric Weddle. Don’t hold back. Don’t be quiet. We want you. If you yelled when you were with the Chargers, I want you coming out here yelling. Just be yourself. Grow the beard back, because we want the beard. If that’s who you were, grow the beard. He’s growing it back. He’s being himself and we’re loving it. It was a great move.”

Weddle has been offering advice to Webb on making the transition from cornerback to safety. Weddle can also lead by example, helping the development of young safeties like Terrence Brooks and Matt Elam.

At age 31, Weddle wants to show he can still play at a Pro Bowl level, and he desperately wants to make the playoffs. Harbaugh seems to have no doubt Weddle will make the Ravens’ defense better.

“I just really appreciate his attitude,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got an enthusiasm for the work day. He loves football. He loves every part of the work day. He loves every part of being in here and being a football player. There’s never something that you look at him and he’s not excited to do. That is infectious. That’s something that makes us all better, and to me, that’s one of the things that a great leader does and he’s got those qualities.

“He fits in with how we do things around here perfectly. I give (general manager) Ozzie (Newsome) all the credit in the world. That was a great signing.”

RELATED: CONDITIONING REMAINS AN ISSUE FOR RB RICHARDSON

Will lack of conditioning lead to Richardson's downfall with Ravens?

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Will lack of conditioning lead to Richardson's downfall with Ravens?

Will running back Trent Richardson’s lack of conditioning be his downfall with the Ravens?

Richardson missed the first week of OTA’s with a hamstring issue, which was not the kind of early impression he wanted to make. Some injuries are unavoidable. But conditioning has been an issue for Richardson throughout his brief and so far undistinguished NFL career.

Entering the NFL as the No. 3 overall pick with the Browns in 2012, Richardson has disappointed in Cleveland and Indianapolis, and spent 2015 out of the league after the Raiders cut him before the season. When the Ravens signed Richardson in April, he knew it might be his last NFL chance. However, Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants to see even more commitment from Richardson when it comes to staying in shape.

RELATED: IN LATEST COMEBACK BID, RAVENS TE DENNIS PITTA'S CONFIDENCE NOT A PROBLEM

“Trent just needs to get healthy,” Harbaugh said after the first week of OTA’s. “I think the workload and the amount of work it takes to be a world class conditioned athlete is something that he’s working on right now. That’s what he needs to understand and that’s where he needs to get himself. When he gets himself there, he’s got talent. It will be fun. I’m very certain he’ll get there and when he does we’ll be able to evaluate him.”

The Ravens don’t have to wait on Richardson. Their running back competition is already intense, with Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Terrance West all fighting for carries and roles.

Whether Richardson even threatens to make the team remains to be seen. His bigger priority is improving his conditioning, and getting back on the field.

MORE RAVENS: MIKE TOMLIN, ANTONIO BROWN GO TO PENGUINS PLAYOFF GAME